Friday, April 06, 2012

Sata is a hardworking President - Chikwanda

Sata is a hardworking President - Chikwanda
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Fri 06 Apr. 2012, 13:54 CAT

MICHAEL Sata is a hardworking Republican President who reports for work before seven in the morning, says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda. And Chikwanda says the government is grappling with unemployment levels which he described as "a ticking time bomb" in a population where 70 per cent are below 30 years old.

Appearing on a Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation special television interview with economist Dennis Wood last night, Chikwanda said the PF government had shown it was a hardworking administration going by its achievements and pronouncements in the first six months of its rule.

"Six months is enough for any serious government to get organised and to launch things that have a bearing on the development of the country," Chikwanda said.

"We are a hardworking government. We have a President who works hard, he is on his desk as early as before 7 am and when we ministers send our letters to the President in the morning, you can get a reply in the afternoon."

He said the government was working on a mechanism of creating labour-intensive public construction projects to absorb the swelling number of unemployed youths in the country.

"Unemployment is a worrying factor given that Zambia's population distribution is that 70 per cent of our population are people who are 30 years and below," he said.

"This concentration of young people people who are in the sensitive areas is a very dicey matter. It is a ticking time bomb, we are sitting on. We must move to create employment opportunities."

Chikwanda revealed that the government would start constructing roads using pavements - the technology of over 1,000 years which was abandoned in the advent of new technology.

"We will be paving the roads, the same way the Romans paved the roads, not only urban roads but also rural roads," he said, adding that,

"although the move might not be financially efficient, it is a cost that is supportable because if you pay a guy K1 million a month, we are creating more income earners who have spending power. K1 million isn't much because when a government minister and a government official when they travel, we give them per diem allowance of US$400 a day which means that what the government official is being paid can pay two guys."

Chikwanda also said there was need for Zambia to produce more entrepreneurs if the country was to record significant economic development, unlike the current trend where more politicians were churned out.

He said the PF government would not abandon the planning set by the MMD.

"We are not discarding what our predecessors did but they have to be some serious realignment. The resource envelope is significantly different and new demands have been thrust upon the new government," he said.

"The Sixth National Development Plan is there as a guide."

He said some of the adjustments done to the SNDP include the upping of funding to the health sector, 46 per cent higher than the outlay in the 2011 national budget.

Chikwanda also said Zambia's inflation was expected to trend downwards, premised on reduced food inflationary pressures and expected fall in bank lending rates.

"It inflation could be lower than six per cent by the end of the year," said Chikwanda.

"We have just ended the first quarter of the year at six percent. There are certain things that could bring the inflation down. On the food front, although the maize and output of other foods maybe slower, but they will still be above our national needs. So, the expectation, inflation of food prices would be tolerable and also the Bank of Zambia have since effected new regime of making their lending rates which mean interest rates would go down. Of course the banks would add a few things, but I hope they have a serious sense of responsibility so that they don't add exorbitant amounts on top of the nine per cent so that we can see the interest rates drop from the current high levels of 26 per cent to significant lower levels."



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